Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks

Evander Kane: Asset or Liability for the Sharks?

I don’t think that anyone can question the offensive prowess Evander Kane brings to a team. However, his role as a San Jose Shark remains a heavy debate.

With seven goals notched on his belt in the 2019-20 season, Kane currently leads the Sharks in scoring and ranks third in total points. This impressive performance comes after playing 10 games thus far.

Watching the squad of players this season, it is undeniable that Kane is the most hungry player on the ice right now. This is a great sign considering the high expectations the Sharks organization and coach Pete DeBoer has for him.

San Jose Sharks Evander Kane
San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

But while Kane coasts, the rest of his team is sinking, and so far the Sharks are off to a miserable 4-8-1 record. There is plenty of faith placed in Kane to do well, and while he is living up to the hype this season, critics often doubt his place, largely due to his past performances and on-ice actions.

This Shark Has a Mean Temper

Remember when I mentioned Kane has only played in 10 games this season? Well, that’s because he missed the first three games with a suspension after a run-in with a linesman in a preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

In a rare case of abuse against an official, Kane was ejected after he was seen pushing linesman Kiel Murchison while the official was attempting to separate Kane from the Golden Knights’ Deryk Engelland shortly after a scrum ensued.

Sharks right wing Joonas Donskoi
NHL official chatting with former Shark Joonas Donskoi (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Physical altercations seem to be a common occurrence for Kane. He is and always will be a player noted for his heavy approach to the game of hockey.

While his aggressive forechecking style can be a huge energy increase for his team, Kane often appears to allow his hotheaded demeanor to get the best of him and this results in him taking careless penalties, or into heated exchanges with other players. See his fights with Vegas’ Ryan Reeves, with whom Kane has a much-publicized feud.

Kane is recognized all throughout the NHL as being someone who won’t back down from a fight. Anyone who is willing to drop the mitts with someone like Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins is certainly worthy of respect, and I am by no means saying he needs to tone down his physicality on the ice. He does, however, need to play smart with how he uses his body and avoid any more suspensions this season.

Redemption for Kane

If Kane wants to silence his critics once and for all, perhaps this will finally be the season. Captain Logan Couture is still trying to find his groove it seems and there could not be a better time for someone else to step up in his offensive absence.

In a game on Oct. 16 against the Carolina Hurricanes, he achieved a first in Sharks franchise history when he tallied a remarkable first-period hat trick. He appears to still be feeding off that momentum, and if he can keep things up, perhaps Kane can lead the Sharks out of the enormous pit they’ve dug for themselves thus far.

Players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are without a doubt great leaders and role models for the organization, but they lack the talent of their prior years, and someone like Kane coming forward is crucial for any future success the organization may look to have.

Joe Thornton Sharks 2017
Joe Thornton (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Let us not forget the absence of Joe Pavelski, which is almost certainly impacting the team as well. Kane spoke out on the series of recent losses after an Oct. 27 game against the Ottawa Senators, saying “We gotta forecheck as a unit of five. When we did that…it created opportunities.” (from ‘Takeaways: For the Sharks, buy-in has to be more than a slogan,’ The Mercury News, 10/28/2019)

He didn’t appear overly frustrated despite the 5-2 loss in that game and maintaining a cool head like that will be vital going forward. There is the possibility of redemption for both Kane and the Sharks.

As noted by Kane himself, they know their path to success. Play the hard and heavy forechecking style the Sharks have terrorized the league with in the past. Do that and wins will follow naturally.

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